Tag Archives: Hockey

Why Do They Have To Grow Up?

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Hope on her way into the rink for her last home game.

Today is another one of those bittersweet days that as parents you kind of hope doesn’t happen. But as time passes they do. They happen and we wish they wouldn’t. For the better part of 17 1/2 years, our children have played either roller or ice hockey. Both involved a commitment of multiple nights per week, weekends and lots of traveling.

Today marked my daughters last home game playing ice hockey. Like her brother, she began by playing roller hockey and moved on to play on the ice. First, she played with boys and for the last few years, she has played on a girls team. We have now played on the rink at Trinity Pawling for nine years.

Watching her play and grow has been an amazing experience. She has developed into a level headed, smart and well rounded young woman. I couldn’t be more proud and could not have asked for more.

With both of my kids, I spent countless hours behind the wheel going to practice, coming home, going to games and tournaments and returning home. Day in and day out.

My colleagues at work know my story and they have listened to me bemoan my situation. Traveling to all corners of New York, to Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Massachusetts. Last year we thought it was the end based on the fact that we didn’t think we had enough girls to play. But then we did.

But now it really is over. My daughter is a senior and will be attending college next year. There will be no more long talks in the car. No more stories of what she had done in school that day or what she was planning to do with her boyfriend that weekend (who by the way is an outstanding young man). No more stories of her plans for the future and what she wants to study in college.

Folks have been telling me for the last couple of years that despite the driving and the long hours that I would miss it when it was over. I would always stoically reply that I wouldn’t miss it at all.

Life, however, has a funny way of sneaking up on you. After our last home game today we have two games next weekend in Saratoga Springs and then it will be the end.

The thing that I think I will miss most is looking to my right as she talked and seeing her eyes, bright with enthusiasm as she chattered on about her hopes and dreams and me, sitting in the driver’s seat thinking that last day was always a lifetime away and I would have these special moments forever.

But that time is now here. It really is over. Soon she will be in college and I won’t have to drive to any hockey practices, games or tournaments. Even as I write this I have an empty feeling inside knowing that both of my children are now grown up. My wife and I have done our jobs and we can only hope for the best.

But to be totally honest, I already miss the smile and the look when she turned to me and would say, “You aren’t going to believe what happened today.”

 

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

“What do you think dignity’s all about?’
-Kazuo Ishiguro

“Without dignity, identity is erased.” 
-Laura Hillenbrand

“Nothing is so essential as dignity…Time will reveal who has it and who has it not.” 

-Elizabeth Gilbert

Yesterday marked the end of my journey as a travel hockey parent. For the better part of the last 15 years, I have been traveling to rinks in the Northeast making sure that both of my children made it to practices, games and tournaments. First when they played roller hockey, and then for the last 10 years, it has been solely been for hockey. We started in New York and then spent considerable time in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire I have traveled the many highways and byways of these states at all hours of the day and night to clean rinks, filthy rinks and all rinks in between. All so my kids could play hockey.

And I have loved every minute of it. But, as with everything, you have your good and bad moments. Have there been teams I wish that either my son or daughter hadn’t played on? Of course. Have some coaches been either to overbearing or lenient? Of course. Overall, however, they have benefited from the teamwork and camaraderie that comes with playing a team sport like hockey and they have made what I would hope to be life long friends in the process.

Of course as you read this you are probably wondering to yourself, “It can’t all be good, can it?” And with that I answer with a resounding, “NO!”

Over the years my kids have encountered teams, parents and coaches who, quite frankly, are a disgrace to the sport. You know who they are, the ones who are abusive in one way or another and who truly shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a hockey rink, let alone children. But there they are. Parents who laugh as a player lays injured on the ice. The same parents saying that opposing players are “faking” injuries, even as they lay crying because they were cross checked into the boards. Coaches who encourage their players to “take out” opposing players.

This weekend, probably the last one of my daughters hockey career, should have been one that she would remember for the rest of their lives. It will be, but for the wrong reasons.

My daughters team played a game on Saturday night in our end of the year competition against a very competitive team. On its face, the game would have been a good one no matter who won. On paper, they were equally matched and the girls felt they could do well. As the game progressed (and we were winning). the opposing team felt it necessary to start with the elbows to the head, tripping, slashing and boarding. For some reason the referees missed a majority of the infractions. The end result? We won the game.

As luck would have it, we ended up playing the same team the very next day in the championship game of the tournament. From the start the opposing team engaged in the same behavior as the day before. Several times our players were injured by members of the other team. On two occasions, as they lay on the ice, parents in the stands and the team itself were laughing as our player cried in pain after being cross checked into the boards and after being up ended in the middle of the ice. The most disgusting part of this display was the fact that the coach, the leader of the team, did nothing to stop the laughing.

In the end, we lost the game. And that’s ok. Although it would have been nice to win, I would have been embarrassed if our girls had lowered themselves and played at the level that this team decided to play at because they wanted to win.

I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again. The fact that the team plays in a way that can lead to serious injury says everything about the coaches and the parents. It sickens me that anyone would condone this type of behavior. If you aren’t telling them to stop, then you are part of the problem. And for what? A trophy?

Here’s the point to my story. As the medals were being handed out, one of our players who had been targeted by the other team the entire game both verbally and physically did something that showed the class of our team. She could have just taken her medal and gotten back on line with our girls. But no, she skated by the opposing team and offered her congratulations. No mean words, no punches, slashes or boarding. Just “congratulations.”

To me this erased the bad feelings I had about the loss. Our girls came away with something much more important than a championship and a trophy.

They came away with their dignity.

 

 

The Last Game of 2017

“Every day is a great day for hockey.”

-Mario Lemieux

“All hockey players are bilingual. They know English and profanity.”

-Gordie Howe

Tonight was the last hockey game of 2017 for my daughter. Thankfully, the team won 3-2 and Hope even got an assist on one of the goals. Who says girls can’t play hockey? Speaking of young ladies, if you haven’t already, take a look at the second quote. I don’t know if Gordie Howe meant to include women, but I can tell you with 100% certainty that the young ladies who play hockey are fully aware and use with no hesitation every  curse word under the sun. Don’t let anyone tell you different!!!!!!

Whatever Happened To The Rules?

“Win or lose, do it fairly.”

-Knute Rockne

Last night my daughters hockey team played a team of thugs from West Hartford, CT. Pretty much from the outset of the game, they played dirty, all with the blessing of their coach. Although her team was losing badly, they kept playing hard, but fair. And even with this commanding lead, the team continued to deliver cheap shot after cheap shot to our young ladies, even breaking the nose of one of our players.

Earlier in the game, my daughter had been checked into the glass. She wasn’t really injured, but certainly could have been. As the game proceeded. she took several more hits, all without penalties on the opposing players. It was clear to me and the other parents in attendance that they game was getting out of hand. In the third period, my daughter took this cross check to the back of the neck and she went face first directly into the ice (see picture below). Finally a major penalty was assessed to the other team!

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Now I am under no illusion that hockey is a totally safe sport. But it is most safe when you play by the established rules and you have referees who enforce those rules. The reason I am writing this entry is because our players did not stoop to the level that this team started on. They went into the game with a high degree of integrity and sportsmanship that never wavered. Not even when the score was 6-0 and they were basically getting mugged left and right, our young ladies retained their composure and played hockey.

Were they frustrated? You bet. Were they pissed off? No doubt. Were they wondering why the referees weren’t calling obvious penalties? Of course. With all of that, they kept playing good, clean, hard hockey. These days, that is all I can ask for. They could have just as easily started employing the same cheap tactics that had been used against them the entire game, but they didn’t.  Even though they lost the game, saw the other coach ejected and took a beating, they ended up winning the game because they were the ones who walked off of the ice with their integrity intact. Not so much for the other team.

It’s Hockey Time!

From October through the end of March every year, my life is practically consumed by the sport of hockey. Either watching it on television or traveling to see my kids play, it has been my life for the better part of the last sixteen years. When my son played, I had to shuttle between he and my daughter teams for practices, games and tournaments. Now that he is in college, I have felt like I have been on “Hockey Parent” vacation for the last several years!

Below you will see two pictures of my daughter playing hockey on her travel team (she is on the left in both pictures). Although checking is not allowed in women’s hockey, don’t let anyone tell you that these hockey players are not as aggressive as the boys. They fight just as hard for the puck, throw elbows and will scrap with their opponents if they have to.

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My daughter against Ridgefield 11/18/17.

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Yes, my daughter plays hockey…

“A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”

-Wayne Gretzky
“My goal is to deny yours.”
-Author Unknown
“Half the game is mental; the other half is being mental.”
-Jim McKenny
My daughter has been playing hockey, both roller and ice, for about eleven years. She currently is a defenseman on a Girls U19 travel team for Pawling Youth Hockey.
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